Artfire VS Etsy: FIVE BIG Reasons Artfire is Better

Hello Readers! I am delighted to introduce Gail of Cross Stitch Cards to explain why she packed up her handmade greeting card business and made the move from Etsy to Artfire. She is here to bring us the facts so show her the love with your comments, clicks, and witty responses!

P.S. I also have a comparison of Etsy VS Big Cartel and Storenvy, so check that out too if you're thinking about spreading your business to one of those venues!

You've created your handmade products. Congratulations! You've already made the decision to make something and sell it online, but now there's a more important decision to be made.  Which online marketplace is right for you?  There are many to choose from and two of the most well known are Etsy and Artfire.   Using my own experiences, I will be looking at several aspects of the sites to help you decide which one (if either) is right for you.  I started using Etsy and then moved to Artfire after about a year, as a lot of my Etsy friends were moving and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!

Check out our great  2012 Update!

1)  Fees that Don’t Require a Graphing Calculator

Let's start with the bottom line:  Fees and Charges.

Etsy will charge you $0.20 for each listing that you activate or renew.  They will also charge you a small Final Value Fee of 3.5% when you sell your item.  The listings are active for four months before they expire.  I consider this to be a cheap price to pay when you compare it to Ebay for example where the fees are much higher. [Don’t forget the Paypal Fees on top of this!!]

Artfire offers two levels of seller accounts.  The Basic Account is completely free in every aspect.  No monthly fee, no listing fees, and no final value fees.  The Pro Account is currently $9.95 per month with no extra fees, and it gives you more features like a blog to use, shop sections to organize your items, and preferential appearance in search results. The listings are permanent until you deactivate them.  I currently have a Basic account which means that I do not pay any fees.

More about Artfire’s Basic Account:
The purpose of the basic account is to let new users get a feel for the site, get to know their way around, and get some items listed; a free introduction to the online experience.  Most will upgrade to Pro because of the extra features that it offers.  The most useful of these features to me right now would be shop sections.  Once you have a large number of items listed, it is easier for the buyer to jump straight to the shop section that they need rather than scroll through pages and pages of your items.  I mean, you don't go into a department store and wander all the way round menswear if you are looking for the lingerie, do you?  You go straight to the right part of the store!

2)  Sure-fire Search Engine Results that Won’t Put a Hole in Your Pocket
(A significant cause of the Etsy-to-Artfire movement)

When you list an item on Etsy, it moves further and further down the search listings the longer you leave it there.  In a saturated market such as Jewelry sales, your items will soon disappear among the masses.  The only way to bring it back to the top of the search list is to re-list the item.  This will, of course, mean paying the $0.20 fee again.  Many sellers were needing to re-list their items several times a week to keep them on the first few pages of search and the cost really starts to mount up.

Artfire recommends leaving your listings alone.  The longer they remain active, the more likely they are to be found in a search.  They submit your item details to Google Shopping and your items will pop up on there on a regular basis when shoppers search for them.  If you start deactivating or re-listing items, it can damage your placement in search results.  

Artfire get a definite plus point on this as they do some of the work for you there.  The constant need to re-list with Etsy is time consuming and expensive, and takes time away from you creating your product.  With the fixed fee per month on Artfire, you know exactly how much you will be paying.

3)  Show More Photos of Your Product- You Deserve It!

I liked the layout of the Etsy storefront when I was using it.  Particularly the way that the photos were displayed.  The alternate photos are displayed right next to the main picture and it was so simple to click on the one you wanted to view.  

Artfire has the extra pictures displayed underneath the main one, with a scroll bar to look at further pictures.  I am finding this a little hard to come to grips with at the moment.  The reason for the difference is that you can upload more pictures on Artfire than Etsy, and using a scroll bar is the only way to be able to put them on the screen without having the pictures take over.  It's a small point, and one that just takes a little bit of getting used to, but still worth mentioning.

4) Artfire Will Help You Make the Switch, with a Guide Tailored to Former Etsy Users

The act of actually listing an item for sale is different for both sites.  Etsy wants a short descriptive title, and Artfire likes a long title with lots of keywords.  It's important to read the help guides on each site before starting.  In fact, Artfire has a special guide for you to read if you're moving from Etsy, as the two sites do operate differently as detailed in the previous section.  The rest of the listing process is pretty similar on both sites as you choose your tags and upload your pictures.
5)  All Shoppers Welcome, No Need to “Sign Up”

I have bought and sold on Etsy and it is a straightforward user experience on both sides.  Just like any other online purchase it is easy if you are used to it!  I have only sold on Artfire so far, but my buyers certainly didn't have any problems, so I have to assume that the same applies with buying.  As with any online purchase, if you want the item, you'll find a way.  Not much to choose between them on this as it's pretty standard across the web.

To buy an Etsy item you do need to register on the site and open an account.  Some people don't wish to do this to just buy one item, they will go and look elsewhere.  To buy on Artfire, you do not need to register or have an account.  You can simply “add item to cart” and checkout using Paypal or any other form of payment that the seller accepts.  I think this opens up the market much more and makes it easier for the buyer.

Sorry Etsy, You Lose:

My general conclusion would be that there is nothing that I particularly dislike about either site.  I would be happy to use Artfire or Esty for selling my products.  However, the fees and charges is the main place where it is won or lost for me right now.

Etsy was a lovely, friendly environment for me to begin my handmade venture.  It seemed like a gentle introduction to the world of handcrafted item sales.  I was able to put as much or as little into it as I wanted.  However, there did seem to be a certain pressure there to sell because I was paying a fee for the listings and re-listings all the time.  There was a month where I paid more in fees than I received in sales.  This caused me to think again about whether it was the right place.

On Artfire, I feel that I can take my time.  It feels a little more relaxed.  I am not currently paying any fees, and yet still making sales.  If I don't have any sales for a while, or take a week off, then I haven't wasted any money on fees.  I like the environment, the forums and the ease of listing an item.    I am sure that I will upgrade to Pro in due course, and accept the monthly fee as a regular outgoing business cost. 

I also love the fact that buyers do not need to sign up with Artfire to make a purchase.  It just seems like a more open environment where people outside of the site can easily make a purchase.  On Etsy, you are aiming your marketing at the existing users, and it seems a little shut off and in it's own little world by comparison.

Artfire gets my vote.


See more of Gail's beautifully embellished, hand-stitched cards at Cross Stitch Cards Artfire site. You can also follow her on twitter

Want to read more of Gail’s interpretation of Artfire VS Etsy? Read about her experiences in their unique community networking environments, a very important part of online sales! All this in Artfire VS Etsy part Two: Comparing the Social Experience, coming up soon to Songbird's Branch! Following is easy. Just enter your email address in the sidebar and it will be delivered to you privately by our server. Thanks for reading!
Never stop learning, growing, and reaching!

Check out our great  2012 Update!


  1. Great comparison of the two sites. One thing I really like about ArtFire's listing process is that it is all on one page. That makes it much faster to list products and edit them over the 5 pages you have to go through at Etsy. Also, ArtFire has a global editor (it's a pro feature) that allows you to edit your whole shop or specific sections with all kinds of choices (price, shipping, description, tags . . .).

  2. Very interesting. I've been trying out ArtFire for a few weeks now, and just now got my first sale. I've mostly just loaded a bunch of items and checked in once a day. No new listings in awhile, since I'm so burnt out by keeping up with the ones I have on Etsy. I am hopeful for AF. Thanks for the breakdown. Look forward to reading more.

  3. Great comments! I took this to Etsy users and they immediately replied that Etsy is superior because it has better traffic and traffic = sales.

    While I agree to an extent, I don't believe that resting on internal sales is sustainable. I know that many artists will be tired of buying other users artwork all the time without experiencing the same or similar success themselves.

    If Etsy would open up to the rest of the online community and NOT require a sign up, as well as eliminating the need to constantly re-list, I may wholeheartedly embrace Etsy again.

  4. Nice article.It's been a big question for artists and craftsmen where to sell their pieces and this post is really explains the differences between Etsy and Artfire.Thank You

  5. Hello, I was thinking about selling on artfire. I recently questioned my journey on etsy and sales have went down since alchemy has left. The ability to post a idea of something you would like made and people would bid on a chance to make that item. I loved making something from peoples ideas my main selling came from this. Now it is gone so are my sales. I am seeing what is now in store here.

  6. Enjoyed reading your thoughtful comparison. I have been thinking about moving my Etsy shop to Artfire and your clear way of presenting your "findings" (sorry for the jewelry pun) convinced me to do so.

  7. I was just at the ArtFire site. It doesn't look like they offer the free version any longer. Is this true or am I just not drilling down far enough. In the FAQs section, the pp about costs is the same as the "What is ArtFire".

    1. same here, it looks like it's it's $13 a month. I feel like my Etsy fees were cheaper in the end, but with Etsy's stupid policies of shutting down my stores I'm considering giving ArtFire a try.

    2. They shut you down as well? Smh there policies are so contradicting its horrible! ! They claim infrigiment protection but the whole site has it all the salers are doing it they will be hurting soon for there lack of comunication with salers and copyright issues......js

  8. Thank you for the comparison between the two sites. I wish you had mentioned whether or not your sales are comparable. I am willing to pay a little more and enure some hassle to get sales, unless I don't have to. Can someone comment on sales experience between to two?

  9. Thank you for the encouraging (to me) post. I have Etsy shop that was suspended almost 2 weeks ago.
    Automaticly generated email says Etsy was reported about some rules violation. Since that time I've been trying to contact Etsy administration throug various different emails/converstions/help links. I tried to figure out what exactly did I do wrong. No result.
    I did relist my items like crazy, I did pay all my bills on time. I have 100% positive feedback from my customers. I've worked really hard for almost 2 years to earn my customers trust and credibility. All my efforts ruined now. I had artfire account before, but didn't really use it. I'm so ready to move all my listings to ArtFire now, so thank you for this very helpful information.

  10. Hello! I am currently on Etsy, but expect to be shut down at any moment. Etsy's gross lack of integrity with allowing mass produced items to compete has always bothered me, but now that I have found they are partners with Paypal and have a "No-compete" clause is the end of my rope. I personally don't like paypal, and neither do some of the people who wish to purchase my work, so I shopped for another Merchant provider, to offer alternatives. No Go. It's paypal or nothing. That's not free enterprise, that's coercion. Etsy has deteriorated too far into the realm Ebay (in fake handmade clothing, lol) for me to allow them to profit from me any longer! To Artfire I go!!!

  11. Thank you for this information. It has opened my eyes to why I have not been as successful as I would like to be with Etsy. The re-listing aspect is killing me! I read an article that suggested you re-list your Etsy items 2-3 times a week! I'm seriously considering moving to AF.

  12. Great information, I'm also really tired of re-listing
    and not having very many sales, I'm not happy that they took away the Virtual labs and chat... the idea of a sense of community is getting lost.

  13. Thanks for this thoughful article. I sell in Etsy. I think I'll try Art Fire now too and see the difference. At least that will give me a chance to compare.

    Dita From

  14. 100% love your article.
    I have etsy amd artfire for both 2years. Etsy does have more traffic, but they randomly shut down my store twice without any reason. I was able to reopen it after a long and crazy emails conversation. And the relist fee is getting out of control.
    So artfire does rock! I will no longer sell or shop at etsy anymore

    1. oh i thought i was the only one- last year i moved it took me a month to get going again- they shut me down for nonpayment (30 bucks!) and had always paid them etc. i paid it, but they refused to open the store again after saying they would.
      this year i opened another 2 stores had to retake all pics and redo all my copy. i asked why my vintage ''wasnt accepting Credit cards'' -they said it was because i was un paid- i corrected them,all was paid - then they made up something else something about my old bill-opened my old store contacted a gal for refund, then they shut it down again -said something about 'transgressions'- i'm like 'what??' i paid and had one refund- this all came from the billing department..what assclowns!

  15. I started my online shop of handmade jewelry pieces just a few weeks ago on Etsy. I paid for keyword ads and one day promotions in different categories. That generated a good bit of traffic/impressions but no sells. Then I tried ArtFire. Within a few days I had a sell and sold two beautiful pieces! I also like the atmosphere better. Thanks for the great article! :-)

  16. I am an etsy user and have been for a year with a fair amount of sales. This information seemed relevant last year but they have recently made changes so that your product is found by relevancy rather than recency to better allow small business to show up in the results rather than just the 'big guys' who can afford (and have the time) to re-list every other day. They have also added a shop stats feature which allows you to see what words or combination of words your products are being searched under and being found.

    Basically, I would love to see an update of this post now that all the changes are made. Right now I am planning on trying both sites to see the differences because I know many people who want to just make one purchase but are deterred because they don't want to create an account. I also love the fact that artfire uses more of a client base outside of their own community and will have items show up in google search results.

    Thank you again for the post! Very interesting!


  17. Too bad Artfire isn't $9.95 a month anymore. It's $12.95 a month starting Feb 6, 2012. A $1.00 jump from the 3 month ago price of $11.95. While Artfire doesn't charge the same fees as Etsy does.. They continue to raise the monthly fee every couple of months. Pretty sad for a site who started out as a free way to sell your products! So much for that. I'm looking into another site or possibly Etsy. Artfire - YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED!!

  18. I have an etsy account and have looked into Artfire which I think I will try very soon.
    I don't find the monthly fee too high.
    Many new sites offer free or low fees while they themselves are building their brand and trying out features. They need a live and active site with real activity to test their platform and tweak things.
    In essence both the site and the crafter are benefitting from what is really a Beta run.
    As the fees increase those who are dabbling more than running a business will likely drop out.
    Every site has its target clientelle and no site is obligated to please everyone.
    They have abusiness too.
    I prefer the monthly fee myself rather than the Etsy model. I am by no means a BIG seller.

    I have been involved in several startups of sites like this such as Elance which was also originally free.

    You can pay rent all inclusive or you can pay utilities separately.
    You are renting space.

  19. Artfire is a very troubled company. They are gasping for money and adding $1 onto the 'lifetime accounts' with the threat of those opting out of the fee not showing up in searches.
    Another problem is that they aren't professional in handling complaints or criticisms. I was booted off.
    But I was going to quit anyway. Artfire does not get anywhere near the traffic that Etsy gets.
    Personally, I don't see artfire being around for more than another year or two.

  20. Many sellers also use these days. They are free unless you sell, which is great (only 15% for each sale)
    I rather pay for getting something in return and their user base is full of sub-culture inspired folks. Steampunk, Gothic, Pinup, Tattoo, Burlesque or whatever you can think of unites on their platform. Not huge in traffic but therefore valuable traffic for small niches…I made quite a few sales and cant be happier. You should check it out at least…doesnt hurt as long as it is free to set up.
    Pls check out my store on RM too…handmade steampunk jewelry
    Read my reviews….not too bad

  21. Hello, I am Maniya Bmayiox
    I was thinking about selling on artfire. Thanks for this thoughful article. I Enjoyed reading your thoughtful information. I also sell my product please check out my store.

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